As told by Pete Ballentine

Photos by Steve Temple and Pete Ballentine

Sometimes a project car is just preparation for the main event. I previously built a Hunter 427 Cobra replica that was featured in the December 2013 Readers’ Rides section of Kit Car Builder (the precursor publication to Car Builder and ReinCarNation magazines). I worked on the Cobra for over 10 years, and when it was finally finished, I had the itch to build something else. This time I wanted a roof and air conditioning, and something with a bit more crash protection than a Cobra. I was still trying to figure out what to build next when I watched an episode of Stacey David’s Gearz TV show. On the show, Stacey was introducing his new project, a Superlite SL-C. The episode intrigued me enough to research the SL-C further.

Fortunately, Fraser, Michigan, is only about a three-hour drive from my home in Dayton, Ohio, so my wife and I decided to take the drive up and check out the Superlite and Race Car Replicas facility. Fran Hall gave us a thorough tour and explained all the features of the SL-C, and we were sold. I placed an order for a kit in September 2013 with options including the street tail, side-impact bars, parking-brake kit, front-lift kit, fiberglass interior panels, and adjustable pedals.

Along with the kit, I ordered a Graziano six-speed transaxle with limited-slip differential, and a clutch and flywheel kit from Superlite to go along with my Chevrolet Performance LS376/480 crate engine. I also ordered Nitto Invo tires, 275/35ZR18 front and 325/30ZR19 rear, from Discount Tire Direct, and had them drop-shipped to Superlite. There, they were mounted on the 18x10- and 19x12-inch Forgestar F14 wheels included with the package.

When my kit was ready in January 2014, George Daulton, president of the Ohio Cobra Club, graciously agreed to travel up to Fraser with me and transport the kit back to Dayton. Appropriately, he hauled my Superlite in his Featherlite trailer.

While I had planned to finish the build in a year, it didn’t quite work out that way. In June 2015, a year and a half later, I had the car running and ready for inspection. After paying the fee to the state of Ohio to get the car inspected, I couldn’t get an inspection appointment until August. The nearest inspection station was 40 miles away in Troy, Ohio, and I didn’t feel comfortable driving the car that far on its maiden voyage. So George lent a hand again and hauled the SL-C to Troy for the inspection.

Two weeks later, and another haul to Troy, and I had an Ohio-assigned VIN and was legal. I then made a call to Robbin at Midwest Classics Insurance to get covered before I took it out on the road. Although it was late in the season, I was able to take the Superlite to a few Dayton Cars & Coffee cruise-ins, and even in red gelcoat and primer, the car got a lot of attention and positive comments.

Although the car was running and driving, I still had a lot of work to do on finishing the interior and doing the bodywork. That’s when things began to change in multiple ways.

I did some bodywork during the winter but still had a way to go in spring 2016. Since I didn’t want to miss the whole car show season working on the car, I applied a temporary finish using Plasti Dip. This air-dry rubber coating began as a flexible grip solution for tool handles, but has all sorts of other applications for automotive projects such as mine. Available in 50 colors, or as a custom-mixed kit, it’s removable, which suited my plans.

I chose a two-tone scheme for the Plasti Dip of a black and Flash Colorshift, topped off with a gloss finish of DipPearl Topcoat from www.dipyourcar.com. I had a great time with the car during the summer, taking it to many car shows including the Holley LS Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

At LS Fest, I met up with fellow SL-C builder Will Campbell, and we displayed our SL-Cs together at the Show-N-Shine on Friday. After I ran the track at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in the Grassroots Motorsports Road Course Challenge, Nitto tires asked me to put the car in their booth on the manufacturer’s midway on Saturday. Then I got a great surprise on Sunday to top off a great LS Fest weekend. I came back to the Nitto Tires booth and two plaques were sitting on the SL-C. The car was awarded the Grassroots Motorsports Editor’s Choice Award, and I got the Most Improved award for the Road Course Challenge. 

In the fall, when the car show season had about wound down, I peeled the Plasti Dip, finished the bodywork, and primered the car. I then drove the SL-C down to Cincy Vinyl Wraps in Milford, Ohio, to get a vinyl wrap applied in Aquamarine Shift Effect, with brushed black and aluminum stripes. Although Brad, Aaron and Zach at Cincy Vinyl Wraps said this was one of the more challenging cars they’ve had to wrap, they did a phenomenal job and the finished car looks fantastic.

Driving the car, I get an idea of what it must be like to be a celebrity, as people are constantly pulling out their phones and snapping photos and taking video.